IMPROVING SCHOOL SECURITY IN THE UK

At ai-security we understand that a school should and must be a ‘safe space’ for its children; a space where children and staff feel secure, protected and free from fear or threat. Parents must feel at ease when they drop their children off at the school gates. With knife crime and school violence on the rise across London and the Essex areas, it is imperative that schools and educational institutions review and upgrade their security measures to meet the challenges of today.

According to an article in The Guardian, at least 1,745 weapons were found by police on primary and secondary school premises – including knuckledusters, kitchen knives, butterfly knives and machetes – over a four-year period.

The legal obligations owed to staff and pupils are clear. Every employer is required by law to assess the risks to the health and safety of employees and others, and to take steps to eliminate or reduce those risks. This could derive from poor security arrangements, such as dangers from intruders, or risks from unsafe premises or equipment.

Security arrangements should be reviewed regularly, and at least annually. Many schools have independent, isolated or temporary buildings, multiple entrances, poor fencing and public access out of hours. Schools need to consider what measures they have in place in case of an emergency. Measure need to be in place to deal with a violent incident, terrorist attack, intruder, fire, lockdown or closing down procedure as a vital part of its security arrangements.

As a leading security company in London and the South East, we have worked with a number of schools to provide security services that are robust and comprehensive. Our tailored security solutions are aimed at being a deterrent for any violent or threatening behaviour; either internally or by an external offender. Along with school management, we undertake a detailed risk assessment to determine how and where we believe, security needs to be enhanced.

There are a number of cost-effective measures that can be put in place and in this article, we’ll take you through them.

Learn how to improve your security today, speak to one of our experts

DOOR ACCESS CONTROL SYSTEMS

Access control systems provide security to a premise by allowing flexible control over who is able to get into the building and at what times. It also allows for determining different access areas for different people. Staff and teachers may be allowed into restricted areas, whilst students may not. Staff and students could be issued with pre-programmed entry cards or key fobs that allow them into different school buildings. This not only control who enters the different areas of the school but allows the school to keep a record of movement in case of any mishap
or incident.

This document titled “A Guide to Access Control in the Education Sector” published by the British Security Industry Association BSIA, discusses the risks and the considerations when selecting an access control system in an educational setting.

Access control systems are computer-based with an electronic card/fob access control system that provides “access cards/fobs”, to permit access into secured areas. There is a range of additional options available for granting access including PIN codes with keypads, radio frequency fobs and biometrics such as fingerprint or facial recognition..

We recommend installing a Network Access Control System, where access is controlled from a central point or computer via a network. In the event of a card or fob being misplaced, it’s easy to disable it and issue another one so that anyone finding the lost card or fob will not be able to use it for access.

The primary benefit of a door access control system is its high-level of security and flexibility. Additionally, a well-planned system can provide useful reporting and data collection and is one of the most cost-effective measures of security.

If you are the head or a governor of a school or educational institution and would like to discuss how we can help with an access control system that will suit your local needs and requirements, give us a call. We'll tailor the system to suit your needs.

CCTV

The value of installing CCTV, especially in a school setting, should not be underestimated. Not only is it an effective deterrent, but it is one of the most powerful instruments in detecting criminal behaviour and apprehending the perpetrators. As a leading CCTV installation company for London, we have been working with several schools to design robust systems to meet their specific requirements.

With technology moving at a rapid pace, CCTV systems have become more intelligent with the capability of providing invaluable information for crime detection and prevention.  There are many types of CCTV cameras and recorders, for example dome and bullet cameras and the option to connect via your computer network.

In a school setting, CCTV’s are particularly useful for a number of reasons including:

  • Staff & Pupil Safety – With the ability to monitor a site 24 hours, CCTV’s can give parents, staff and pupils peace of mind that incidents will be caught on camera. CCTV can be used to make sure that school rules are being adhered to and that pupils stay safe whilst avoiding any potential accidents.
  • Crime Deterrent – The presence of visible CCTV cameras can work to deter criminals or intruders from breaking and entering, stealing or committing any other crime. CCTV technology has improved dramatically in the last few years. Improved image resolution has resulted in several more criminals being identified and apprehended.
  • School Perimeter protection – Whilst unwelcome visitors can be kept out of the school through access control systems, they cannot legally be removed from outside the school. CCTV cameras at the school peripheries can capture images of those loitering outside the school gates.
  • Prevention of Bullying – Bullying is a problem in most schools. If pupils know that their actions can be viewed on CCTV, they are less likely to initiate bullying activities.
  • Emergency Monitoring – If there is an emergency in the school that requires an evacuation, then the CCTV footage can still be accessed remotely. This can help staff to check that everyone has left the building safely. If there is anyone still inside, the emergency services can use CCTV to locate and evacuate them.
  • Staff Protection – CCTV can act as a preventive tool, if the parents and students know that they will be caught on CCTV if they misbehave.

It is important to mention that for CCTV to be effective, they must be visible, and staff, students and parents must be made aware of their presence.  It is also important that they be regularly maintained and serviced to ensure full working order at the time of any incident.

CCTV installations in schools has been a controversial issue for many as a breach of privacy. This article in Schools Week on the impact on CCTV use in schools suggests that if used in the right way, CCTV’s can have a positive impact.

SECURITY BARRIERS AND GATES

Automated vehicle barriers and gates can be essential in a school or educational institution setting. They are an effective method of controlling who enters and exits the school premises, particularly cars and delivery vehicles. They are also one of the most useful ways of controlling parking on school premises. Security barriers or gates are the first line of security for your school security together with your boundary fencing.

Automated Gates and barriers can be installed at every entrance or access point to the school but smaller, less used entrances could be fitted with a simple combination lock or access control system.

There are a range of security barriers available, and our team will assess the risks associated with your school premises and budget before making recommendations for the exact type of automated gates or barriers you should install.

Some of the commonly used gates and barriers for schools
and educational institutions are:

  • Automated vehicle barrier most commonly used in car parks
  • Sliding gates
  • Single or double leaf gates

The system can be integrated with intercom, CCTV or access control. This allows the barriers to be activated by a fob/card reader or by reception staff via a video or audio intercom.

We can also assist with your fencing requirements.

FIRE ALARMS

Clearly it is important for an effective fire alarm system, to be operated in any space inhabited by young children.

The government has issued specific guidelines and regulations with regards to fire safety and risk assessment in schools, nurseries and any form of academic institution. In summary, educational institutions are required to undertake risk assessments to identify general fire precautions needed to safeguard occupants in case of fire, including their safe means of escape.

You will have procedures in place to reduce the likelihood of fire we can maintain fire detection and alarm systems to ensure emergency evacuation procedures are executed successfully.

We supply and install a range of fire alarm systems; but the most common used in schools are Addressable Fire Alarm Systems.

Addressable systems offer flexibility and accuracy in detecting the location and extent of a fire as each part has its own unique identifier. This system is ideal for larger facilities because they can quickly pinpoint the location of the fire based on the identifier that triggers off the alarm. Systems can be hardwired or wireless. Wireless Systems are the quickest and easiest to install.

The benefits of a well-maintained and intelligent fire alarm system are obvious. In addition to compliance with building regulations and school fire safety requirements, they prevent false fire alarms. Additionally they can pin point where exactly a fire started. This article in Education Business discussed  the impact of false fire alarms in schools and academic institutions.

INTRUDER ALARMS

Schools, colleges and universities across the UK have made large investments in equipment, including computers, music, art or technology and data. Obviously it is essential to prevent intruders breaking and entering and stealing  these valuable assets.

Schools and educational institutions are particularly vulnerable as they are empty at night and have long periods of ‘no occupation’ during school holidays. Installation of intruder alarms are therefore mandatory.

Our intruder alarm systems aim to protect the school premises 24-hours a day, 7 days a week, by deterring intruders, triggering an alarm and even setting off a visual warning such as flashing lights and notifying someone to attend urgently.

Alarm systems can be both wired and wireless. We can also set up your system to automatically inform an approved alarm receiving centre if security is breached. In turn, the centre will alert the police or contact an assigned person such as a key holder, third party security firm or monitoring centre. Having a high quality intruder alarm system in place can also result in lower insurance premiums for the institution.

The British Security Industry Association (BSIA) has published a comprehensive document entitled “A Guide to Intruder Alarms in the Education Sector” that outlines the needs and requirements of intruder alarm systems in schools and other educational institutions across the UK.

The type of alarm system your school needs will depend on a variety of factors including size of school and area of space, school budget, the location of the school and the crime levels in the area.

Usually educational premises that require a high level of security are likely to opt for a higher grade intruder alarm system which are more sophisticated, advanced and intelligent systems.

Please get in touch if you need to upgrade your current alarm system to meet the challenge of today's crime statistics.

MAINTENANCE AND REPAIR

CCTV’s, intruder alarm and fire alarm systems, security gates and barriers and access control systems, require a sizable monetary investment. It is therefore vital that these be regularly maintained and serviced so that they are always in good working order.

Equipment that is left unattended for long periods of time without regular care and maintenance can malfunction and leave your premises vulnerable. If you find something is not working, through regular testing and checking, make sure you get it repaired as soon as possible.

Whether you need a one-off emergency repair or regular support, ai security offers a responsive and professional 24/7 service for fixing any faults with your electronic equipment systems, CCTV equipment and door entry systems whether they were installed by us or not.

We can also offer our popular PPM (planned preventive maintenance) service, which enables regular maintenance via our diary system.

Our excellent customer support includes a dedicated team to take your calls, a 24 hour monitored telephone number and an out-of-hours service so that we’re on hand whenever you need assistance. Our team of engineers are accredited and certified by Safe Contractor, and can often fix any fault in a single visit. When this is not possible (for example, if specialist parts need to be ordered), we will provide a specific and reasonable time frame and cost to fix your fault.

We are available 24 hours, 7 days a week on the telephone. Should you need any emergency assistance please do not hesitate to call us… our dedicated customer support team will assess your situation on the phone and despatch one of our trained and highly experienced engineers to your premises as soon as possible.

Our skilled engineers can undertake repair work on systems installed by us or those from other providers. Our primary concern is to get your system back in working order so that you can go back to feeling safe and secure.